Updated Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:16 AM
MEXICO CITY — With just more than a week left in office, the president of Mexico has offered perhaps the boldest proposal of his six-year tenure. He wants Mexico to just be "Mexico."
The formal name of the country is Estados Unidos Mexicanos, often translated as "United Mexican States" or "United States of Mexico."
It's the "Estados Unidos" that nags at President Felipe Calderón, and he wants it out once and for all. It happens to be the Spanish name of the big neighbor up north, and that is no accident.
Mexico was christened with the longer formal name in the early 19th century after independence from Spain, inspired by the democratic exemplar next door. Other names considered at the time, noted Calderón, a fan of history, were Mexican Empire and Republic of Mexico ("Mexico" is derived from the Nahuatl word for the region).
Now it is time, he said, for Mexico to step out of the U.S. shadow, at least in name.
"Mexico does not need a name that emulates another country and that none of us Mexicans use every day," he said Thursday at the presidential residence.
"Mexico is the name that corresponds to the essence of our nation. Pardon the expression, but the name of Mexico is Mexico."
Making it so, however, will take a constitutional change.
With Calderón leaving office Dec. 1, the prospects seemed uncertain; his office did not respond to questions on why he proposed the shift now.
Associates have said he is looking for work in the United States after he leaves office, but Calderón is not known to particularly love the country and never shies from using it as a political-whipping boy. He made his announcement as the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving Day.
It is not a new idea. Such a name change has been proposed occasionally but without getting far.
"With so many real problems in this country, I don't think that it matters," said Enrique Krauze, a leading historian and political analyst. "No one ever calls Mexico anything other than Mexico."
Opposition lawmakers also shrugged at the idea, with some viewing it as the early onset of Calderón's post-presidency blues.
"He is not prepared to leave power," said Iris Vianey Mendoza, a senator with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. "The problem is not that our name emulates that of the American government but that we don't fight our subordinate relationship to it."